Celebrating International Women’s Day 2022
Working Women Speak Out
Women for Rights and Empowerment (W4RE) organized a vigorous International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration on Sunday March 6 in Edmonton. Assembling on the grounds of Corbett Hall at the University of Alberta, the event It began with speakers. Everyone then marched along Whyte Avenue to Gazebo Park, taking up two lanes on Whyte Avenue.
Merryn Edwards welcomed everyone. IWD is an occasion to celebrate the fighting women who are fighting for their rights and for the future, she said. She spoke about how, two years into the pandemic, it was apparent that governments clearly cannot be trusted to safeguard our well-being. W4RE provides a forum for women to speak in their own name, for example the work to bring forward the conditions and demands of care workers, to put forward our own solutions and develop our own leadership, she said.
Peggy Morton spoke on behalf of the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism (ECAWAR) about the necessity to oppose warmongering, lies and disinformation. Canadians stand for peace, freedom and democracy, not the promotion of the slogans of the Ukrainian Nazi collaborators in WW2 and neo-Nazis today by the Deputy Prime Minister and others, she said. She called on everyone to step up their efforts against the escalation of the war danger by the U.S.-NATO.
Bear Clan organizer Judith Ann Gale explained the work of her collective with unhoused Indigenous people. When everyone was told to shelter and stay at home, the authorities utterly failed to provide for those who had no homes to go to, she said. Bear Clan was formed in the spirit of the Indigenous traditions of taking responsibility to care for each other, as opposed to the degrading concepts of charity and handouts, and has been working ever since to fulfill this responsibility.
Two young speakers from Anakbayan Canada spoke militantly about the situation of those forced to emigrate from their homeland, of the separation of families and exploitation of migrants by neo-liberalism in many guises.
Sandra Azocar, Vice-President of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said, “The struggle for women’s rights is waged alongside the struggle for workers’ rights, on the shop floor, on picket lines, and with marches in the street. So it is no surprise that the women of our union and all unions have carried the tradition of IWD into the present. We stand up and fight for the dignity and respect we deserve. We must because if we don’t, who will, she said.
Clarizze Truscott from Kabisig Society of Fort Saskatchewan, which has assisted and defended the rights of migrant workers for many years, spoke about the abuse of migrant workers and the demand and fight for Status for All! and permanent residency on arrival for all migrant workers.
Participants remembered Jean Rogers who recently passed away at the age of 93. Jean Was a lifelong activist for the rights of women, for peace, and social justice including the right to health care.
Many copies of TML with information and analysis on Ukraine were distributed, and very much appreciated by participants.
The celebration closed with the singing of Bread and Roses, written in honour of the strike of the women textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912, followed by the Chilean Song “The People United Will Never be Defeated” in English and Spanish. Refreshments followed. The sun was shining, the weather held a hint of spring, and the excitement of being with old friends in person filled the park as people spoke about their challenges, achievements, and battles to come.
(Workers’ Forum, posted March 11, 2022)